"The Odd Life of Timothy Green": Peter Hedges and Joel Edgerton, Artists at Google

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 13.08.2012

>>male speaker 1: Hey, hey hey.
>>male speaker 2: Thank you.
>>Female speaker: Hi, my name is Claire Stapleton. I'm delighted to welcome Peter Hedges and
Joel Edgerton to Google today, and to talk about their new film
which you just saw the trailer for, The Odd Life of Timothy Green
which Peter wrote and directed, and Joel stars in.
So, to quickly introduce these our esteemed guests:
Peter is a novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. His first novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape
became a movie in 1993 with Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio.
He was nominated for an Oscar in 2002 for best adapted screenplay for About a Boy,
and he made his directorial debut in 2003 with Pieces of April.
Joel is an Australian actor who's been in Star Wars Episodes Two and Three,
he had a very memorable role, and in 2010's critically acclaimed Animal
Kingdom, and he'll also be playing Tom Buchanan
in the upcoming Baz Lurhmann adaptation of The Great Gatsby.
So, before we get into the odd life, I just want to talk about your career Peter,
and we have a couple clips from your movie history
and what really struck me about your career is that you've written in so many different
forms, started as a playwright, you've written a
few novels, screenplays, you've adapted novels to screenplays.
So let's start with a clip from the first movie you wrote
What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
Let's roll the clip.
>>Peter: Mm hmm.
>>Claire: So to start us off, I was just curious to hear
about the process of adapting your novel to the screen
and what that was like, what that experience was like.
>>Peter: Well, Gilbert Grape, What's Eating Gilbert Grape was my first novel
and I had the opportunity to write the screenplay but because I came from writing for the theater
I liked writing dialog and I was working with a great filmmaker,
Lasse Hallström who's Swedish and wasn't as interested in dialog
because film is ultimately a visual storytelling experience.
So it was great, it was great. It was hard. I started writing and Johnny Depp was a big
fan of the novel and committed to do the film before the screenplay
was done, so we were in pre-production
and I'm still trying to figure out how to format a screenplay,
and before we knew it, we were filming. And it was a great education because the novel
is written from kind of a Holden Caulfield-esque first
person narrator voice. Gilbert's very angry and he exaggerates everything.
He's quite unreliable, and Lasse said, "Look, when we make the film,
you can't make it in the tone of the book because then we'll be making fun of everyone,
and I can't, I just can't make fun of these people."
And so that was probably the most--well first of all learning
how to to tell the story visually, and in the cuts,
and with the fewest words possible was one of the challenges.
And the other was this, this education in tone
and how to tell the story so it would--it wouldn't be making fun of the people
the way Gilbert was. To go from the first person unreliable to
sort of a third person kind of experience.
>>Claire: Mmm hmm. Cool, very cool. So next we're going to move on to your directorial,
feature directorial debut, Pieces of April. So let's roll that clip.
>>Peter: Thank you.
>>Claire: Patricia Clarkson is so good. [Laughs]
>>Peter: She's so good, we actually shot that scene in thirty minutes.
The entire scene.
>>Claire: So actually leads into my next question, about making this your first directorial feature
and sort of how you chose that and what kind of stories are you attracted
to more generally?
>>Peter: Well, I'm attracted to stories about people,
people that are ordinary that--eh--maybe have extraordinary moments.
I don't really like writing about extraordinary people
but more maybe because I feel ordinary and everyone I know is kind of ordinary--no,
you're not ordinary--I'm sorry. But this particular story, I had been greatly
inspired by a really beautiful Danish film called The
Celebration Thomas Vinterberg wrote and directed.
It was the first film made with a sort of cinematic school called the Dogme school
where you shot with digital cameras and available light.
It's a really brilliant film, I--just it's a masterpiece.
And so I'd wanted to direct ever since I'd written Gilbert Grape,
and this particular story was born out of trying to pick up a girl on the subway
before--long before I was married, I'm happy to say, LONG before I
even met my now wife, and also born out of the fact
that my mother was dying of cancer when I rediscovered
the notes for this movie, and while it's not about my mom,
it's kind of a tribute to my mom. We shot it for three hundred thousand dollars
in sixteen days and that particular scene was the one they
showed when Patty was nominated for an Academy Award
and I'm quite proud of it because that was the scene--it was the one scene in the movie
I actually knew how to shoot . And we went to shoot it my way and Oliver
Platt pulled me aside and said,"Peter, what are you doing?"
and I said, "I have this great concept for the scene,"
and he said, "No, no, no. It's much simpler." And so I threw out my plan and went with a
simpler approach and it's just one of those great examples
where others teach you and that's probably why I love going from
novel writing to film making because when you make a film you are taught
by the people you work with. I think a lot like what you feel here, working
here. That I have in a kind of very intense, very
focused period when you are filming. You just every day, you have the light, you
have the time you have, and you get what you can get. And you hope.
>>Claire: I was reading that you said that making a film is sort of like writing a novel
with a group of people?
>>Peter: Yes.
>>Claire: I find that a very interesting comment so I was wondering if you could tell us a
little more about that.
>>Peter:Well it is. The great part of film making is this business of other people.
And you end up, you have your intention, I mean, I always have a hope when I start
to tell a story that it will end up something like what I
hope it will end up like. But it always gets changed, and seasoned and
influenced by the people with whom you work.
And so there are moments, for instance in our new film,
or any of the other films, that I didn't anticipate. So you basically
are setting the table, or if you think of it as a party metaphor,
you're planning a party, you invite a bunch of people,
and you hope for the best, you know. Sometimes the party has a theme, and sometimes
people come in costume.
>>Claire: So as you're dreaming up a story, do you think in different formats and forms?
Do you think this story is a novel versus film versus a, you know,
what you're going to tell your kids before they go to bed or?
>>Peter: Great question. The story begins to dictate whether it's a
play, or a novel, or a film, and it usually is--if you're going to spend
a lot of time with thought and how people think,
that's going to become--more likely to become the novel.
If I imagine it all taking place in a room, with really great protracted conversation,
that's probably going to be a play. And then--but sometimes those things cross
over too, but my job is to try to get myself ready
so that I'm as open as possible for the story that occurs.
And to get out of the story's way, in a sense, to, you know I have my hope of what it's going
to be, but it will change over time, because, you
know, you think it's going one way, and then it gets pulled another way.
So just trying to stay true to it, and, I think what I hope for when I tell a
story is that it will be useful to you in some way.
And my hope is that if it's useful to me and to the people around me,
the people who first read or you know watch the first cut,
if it's working with them, then I'm hoping that my world isn't so rarefied
that nobody else in the world will respond. But ultimately the hope is that the story
that I'm working on, because each thing takes years always, will
change me in some way, you know? That's kind of the secret hope. Sometimes--
>>Claire: That's so poetic.
>>Peter: Wow. Well, here we are, trying to be poetic.
>>Claire: Okay, let's fast forward to your recent film
starring Steve Carell: Dan in Real Life. Let's roll it.
[Pause] [Applause]
>>Claire: You really, now that I think about it,
you really have the best women in your repertoire. Emily Blunt's also in that one, one of my
personal favorites, but Juliette Binoche is amazing.
>>Peter: Probably--the truth is, before I knew he existed,
I wanted to be Joel or the equivalent. I wanted to be an actor, and I trained to
be an actor. The joke in drama school was the harder I
worked, the better everyone else got. [Laughter]
So--but what happened was I went to school with some pretty remarkable people,
Mary Louise Parker was in college with me, Joe Mantello who directed Wicked on Broadway,
he's one of our great directors, and I started writing plays for my friends,
and that's how I became a wri--I didn't set out to be a writer,
I just wanted to be a part of that collective experience of making theater,
and I also felt like I could create roles for my friends
that would show other sides of them that maybe people, maybe my teachers hadn't
seen yet. So it was--that was the only goal to create
work and create work for my friends.
In many ways, it's the same thing I'm doing now,
it's just I get to write something and then I get to work with someone like Joel,
and Jennifer Garner, and all the different actors I've gotten to
work with, I didn't go to school with them, I didn't
know them but I know their work, sometimes I don't their
work, and I meet them through the audition process.
That is--that goes back to that notion of other people
and you know I feel the most vital, the most alive certainly in my work when I'm
actively engaged with people who are better at what they do
than I could ever be. And--and--and there's a story,
there's an intention to tell that story and then there's that process of life and
the different people coming together and you end up with what you end up with.
That scene that you just saw, that was the last scene we filmed, you know,
in Dan in Real Life and anyway. I particularly love writing for actresses,
I just think there are so many, ha, how many great actresses. I mean, there
are just so-- you fell it when you go to cast a movie you
go, "Well, there's a couple of guys who could
play that part," and then there are so many great women acting,
and not enough great roles for them. So--
>>Joel: That seems to be more the point to me as well.
>>Peter: That there aren't enough roles.
>>Joel: That there isn't enough--
>>Peter: It's true.
>>Joel: --great roles for women, in comparison to the roles
that are written for men. 'Cause I think the movie business is more
like the stock exchange than anyone within the industry or the artists
within the industry would care to--like it to be anyway.
It's like we're all like stocks on the market, you have a certain stock and then men and
women have different stock because it relates to what the audiences want
to see, and I think the studios are fixed on this
idea that my stories need to be driven by men,
because that's what audiences want to see, which is not necessarily true.
And I think a lot of women that I know who are actresses,
who are actors, feel like a lot of the times the role of a woman, you know, in a lot of
studio type movies is to the woman who sits around home fretting
about the guy who's the cop, who's actually doing all the cool stuff in
the movie and those kind of just sort of side car roles
to men, who are the engine of a movie, which is a
shame. And to the point where I actually think it's
much tougher to be an actress than an actor.
>>Peter: Definitely.
>>female speaker: What do you do to change it?
>>Joel: What do you do to change it? You write the roles like guys like Peter
and you give them the chance to make movies. Yeah, that's it and I think that the way to
change anything is at the base, and the base of all things
movies is the script, and unfortunately, I think a lot of Hollywood
doesn't value the screenwriter as much as they should in the process,
and sometimes kind of puts the cart before the horse in a way
in that movies sometimes start being shot before the script is finished.
Which to me, is a big problem, but we don't need to get into that,
I've said my piece so [laughs]
>>Claire: So Peter do you write with that in mind?
The inequality facing actresses?
>>Peter: Well, I do, but--but mainly because there's so many actresses
I want to work with. I don't think that I can single-handedly change
that much, but the stories that I am drawn to,
and the characters I care about often are women.
The people in my life that most astonish me over and over again,
apart from my children who happen to be boys, are women.
So, my favorite playwright, Tennessee Williams, wrote the greatest roles for women of any
writer I think perhaps ever. But ultimately what you want to put down anytime
you put something down on the page, you want to put down, male or female, old
or young, a part that an actor, a really good actor, would want to play,
I think that because the only way that the stories I write get made,
are if actors of a certain caliber want to be in them.
So it's incumbent on me to put something on the page
that they go, "I can't wait to play this role." But I think that makes me a better writer
because if you're putting something on the page that an actor want to play,
you've given them a lot to do, a lot of range, or a lot of places they get to go.
And that means then that the script's gonna presumably have more depth,
more surprise, more nuance, more meaning. And all of those things are the stuff of the
movies I like. I like movies about people, and sometimes
they're sweet, and sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're
darker, but ultimately, I go to movies because I want
to be reminded of what it means to be alive.
>>Claire: Okay. Okay, let's switch gears and talk about The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Maybe Joel you could tell us a little bit about the story
for the folks that haven't seen it.
>>Joel: I didn't write it.
[Audience and Joel laugh]
The Odd Life of Timothy Green--this is where you get to find out
why actors get given words to say. Because they're not very eloquent when they
make stuff up for themselves, so here we go. The Odd Life of Timothy Green,
written by the wonderful life of Peter Hedges, look, it's a story about a very deserving
couple, who unfortunately can't--find out they can't
have a child, of their own, by normal means. And in a way to get over the grief of the
news, they dream up, in their living room, over
a bottle of wine, the kind of child that they might have if
they could have a child. And the dreams are for a kind of a wonderful
child. And then to pass through that and get over
that, they bury these ideas in the garden, and by a twist of magic fate they're delivered
this child and the child, as they--bring this child into
their home-- See, now you know what I was talking about--
>>Peter: You're doing great.
>>Joel: Am I?
>>Peter: Yes.
[Audience laughs]
>>Joel: Thank you, thank you. Starts to teach them a lot about themselves,
and it, not only them, but transforms-- this young child Timothy transforms this town
and it's a movie that's really about a lot of things that are so true
to family and real life, but it has a wonderful kind of magic dust to it,
in the same way that E.T. had for me, or It's a Wonderful Life.
And it's a very positive and optimistic film. There you go, that's all I'm gonna say.
>>Claire: So, you of course play Timothy's father,
and I think we have a clip of your sort of going out there
with your little son, taking him to school. Let's roll it.
>>Claire: Can you tell us a little bit about your character
and kind of working with Jennifer to create the portrait of these two people?
>>Joel: Yeah, well, Jim is just a good guy, and he is --look, I saw Jim as a bit of an
"everyman", you know so much of this film is very relatable.
It's a town that is a town near you--sorry I'm spitting--
it's a town that's a town near you that you can relate to,
populated by people that you feel you know. And Jim is that guy who is just well deserving
guy, there doesn't seem to be a mean spirited bone
in his body and almost to his own detriment, he has an inability to kind of be really assertive,
particularly with his father, which is a very relatable issue I know to a lot of people
and myself included sometimes, and to his boss at work.
And he has a lovely wife who is played by Jennifer Garner,
who's just, I can't say enough good things about Jennifer.
Whatever you get from her onscreen as a good person and as a warm kind of force,
is exactly what she's like in life and as a mother,
and so she's kind of like almost the most tailor made person for this movie, yes?
>>Claire: It's an amazing cast. As you mentioned, Jennifer, Ron Livingston, Diane Wiest, Rosemarie
DeWitt, Common, and so Peter, I'm wondering if you can tell
us a little bit more about this project and directing it, experience?
>>Peter: Well, what--when you cast a film what you try to do is put people in that you
would run to work with every day, wake up every day and look at the call sheet
and go, "oh my God, I can't believe today we get Dianne
Wiest." And on this film, because they--we had Joel
and Jennifer everyday, I think there may be one day that neither
of you worked, but you were there all the time,
which was great. And we had C.J., the incredible boy
who plays Timothy, who had been in my previous film, Dan in Real Life.
I met him when he was six and he's only been in two films.
>>Claire: Such a wise little dude.
>>Peter: He is the wise little dude. And he kept us very honest, he also kept us
from swearing on the set--
>>Joel: Well--
>>Peter:--but he was great! And again, the cast in this film is--every cast I've
had on the three I've gotten to direct, and even Gilbert Grape cast is staggering
when you look at it twenty years later, you go, “How did we have all these people?"--but
this cast is very special to me because I'm still the guy who wanted to be
an actor, whose trying to write roles that actors I want to hang out with will want
to play. It's a great job, because there they are. Everyone who came
to this film came for the right reason, they understood what the film was, and at
times they understood it better than I did. Ron Livingston who plays, well, really kind
of a jerk in the movie. Kind of the anti-Jim, Jim's boss, he brought things to the role
that I could never have imagined. Rosemarie DeWitt in the same way plays Jennifer's
sister. And so, these actors got to play with each
other and while it is a fairytale and it's a sweet
movie, I wanted it to be rooted from the very beginning
in something very real and very true. And so, there's a lot of joy in the movie,
and there's a lightness of a Vivaldi-esque kind of skip to the movie,
which was my intention 'cause I just think there's a--there's so much leaden,
dark clouds just hanging over everything that--I think it's possible to look
at some of what we're in the middle of a bit differently.
And Timothy does that, right? So we cast a kid who can be so disarming,
and he can kind of say, “Gee, maybe it's not exactly the way you think it is,
maybe it's also this." There's a wonderful moment where he goes--his dad forces him to
be on the soccer team, he has no business playing soccer, because
they imagined their kid would score the winning goal. So he's on the
soccer team, and he goes and he forces, Common's the soccer
coach, does a great job, and Timothy goes out for the first practice,
and he keeps falling. He falls repeatedly. And the parents are just
like in agony, going "[choking noises] Ah this is awful."
And the coach is horrified, and Timothy's smiling, and they say to him,
“Why are you smiling, why're you smiling?" And Timothy says, "I can only get better."
And I could apply that to all sorts of instances in my life,
if I had that wisdom, you know, some kids have that wisdom
and some kids don't. Some kids have bigger black clouds hanging over them
than any adult we know. So, it felt like, when you can put those actors,
you know, you get to play with them. It's why LeBron James wants to play with Dwayne
Wade and Chris Bosh basically, and everyone gets upset about it, but I also
understand it, because you want to play with people who know
that you know they're going to pass you the ball.
They're going to make you better. You also know that you're going to have to
bring your "A" game at every moment. When Dianne Wiest walks on a set,
if I don’t have, if I'm not at full throttle, I'm gonna get crushed.
Not because she's mean, she's not mean, she's that brilliant.
So you just, the crew, everybody, whenever she was on, everybody just had a little pop
in their step because Dianne Wiest, one of our great actresses,
was in the room. What you want is to not be the smartest person
in the room, which is frequently easy for me, it happens
all the time, and you want to be with people who make you
better. When I was a kid, I lived next to Lee and
Larry Silverstein, they were two years older than me,
they were the best athletes, they were the smartest kids, and I hung out with them,
and I lost every football game, every baseball game, every basketball game, every chess match.
They crushed me all the time, but then when I went to play with my peers, I was unstoppable,
because I'd played with the Silversteins, and so. It's nice being at Google,
because when you walk around and you feel, you feel the energy here, that's what you
all are doing. You're playing with the Silverstein's, and
you are playing with people who are making you better.
And that is one of the things I've learned after thirty years of doing this,
is that it's okay to need help, and it's okay to work with people
who are going to make you better. And if you're--you have to have enough ego
to believe your ideas worth putting out in the world but you have to have enough humility
to realize that you can't do it alone and it won't be half as good as you imagined it
if you allow it to be impacted by people who share an intention
and who are not malicious, but ultimately desiring to be a part of making something.
And ultimately, Timothy Green, what Timothy's real message
is that we need to be making again, we need to be making things.
And it's not a big preachy part of the movie, but it's some part of the movie I'm really
proud of. And one of the things that Joel won't say
about himself, I'm going to brag about him for a second because he's one of the greatest
>>Joel: In this room.
>>Peter:--I can ever imagine I'll get to work with, [Claire laughs] and he says he's not
a writer, I've read his screenplays. He's an amazing
writer, he's going to be directing, he's got a collective in Australia, they're
going to be making very very important films. They already are. And--
>>Joel: We have our own YouTube channel. [Laughter]
>>Peter: I think there will come a time in your lives, those of you sitting here,
when you remember back, not just when Peter Hedges was here talking about himself,
but when you sat in the presence of Joel Edgerton and I really felt it when I met him,
was so thrilled Disney let me cast him. And then he gives this great performance
and now I get to tour the country with him, and realize that I'm playing with the Silversteins,
he just happens to be about fifteen years younger than me.
>>Claire: I predict a buddy cop comedy for the two of you to star in. [laughter]
Oh I actually did want to ask about the theme of making things,
there's like this elemental quality of creating stuff,
I mean even when Timothy is sort of spreading his arms out
and looking at the light, it's almost like he's receiving some sort of divine inspiration.
I'm wondering if there's some mystical theory of creativity going on here?
>>Peter: No, I don't think it's anything mystical other than my mother,
when she was very sick would--and we were spending all our time trying to get
new treatments and find new doctors and do what you do when someone you love is, you
know, failing physically-- she would constantly be asking me, or calling
me and saying, “What are you making?" and I'd say, "Well, I'm working, I've got
a doctor on the other line so can you--?" and she'd say,"No, no, no. Forget it. I want
to know what you're making." And in my, those moments, true story, in those
moments when I really miss her the conversation I imagine at the end of the
day is what I tried to make that day. And I just think that is--you know you can
make life, you can make a family, you can make a charity, you can make something
and I think that is, that's when I feel the most vital when I'm
a part of making something, that's when I feel the people in my life are
the most vital when they're engaged in the making.
And it's not so much the selling of something, we're in a stage where we're out talking about
our film, which is kind of the act of selling,
[Joel coughs] but we're also trying to make you aware of
what we made, which is maybe a nicer way of saying it, but--
>>Joel: It's a double make.
>>Peter: It's a double make. But I think we both agree, and I'm sure you agree too,
that the moments that you most treasure are those moments where you're fully engaged,
and something is emerging and you quite don't know what it is and it's bubbling forth,
so that's what in it, without actually preaching about it--I'm the son of a minister
so I'm not trying to preach in my films-- but I do, that's one of the things my mom
taught me, is to always be making or appreciating others
who are making, encouraging others who are making, and so
I tried to put a little of that in our film.
>>Claire: Very cool. So, I think we have one last clip, um, of the movie, so let's roll
[Joel laughs]
>>Claire: So Peter, you've had kids in a lot of your works,
so I'm wondering if you have thoughts, or rules around how you write kids to be so
kind of believable and--Timothy is obviously a unique
and special little person, but still?
>>Peter: There's nothing I do differently for a kid role that I wouldn't do for an adult
role. Kids are people too, turns out, surprise!
But they really are. Joel said something really great in--was it
Houston or Atlanta? But he was talking when he said,
because he's often asked, “How can you play a father, when you know,
how do you play a father if you're not a father?" But he's got a great answer for it,
but at one point he said, "I don't understand people who have no patience for kids,
because they were kids once." So the hard thing when you make a movie like
this, and put a kid in it, is--Jennifer said it--
when you cast a kid in a movie, you're responsible for them for life.
Because this movie could change their life in ways,
I mean you never know, some movies come out and nobody sees them, but- but-we’re very
careful when we cast, I am when I cast a kid. I always meet the
parents. Get to know the family. Is it a family, is the kid really the person
who wants to be in the movie, or is it the parents who need the kid to make
the movie so they can live off the check? Which is sometimes the case, or they need
their kid to become somebody so they can fill the hole that they have in
their own life.
>>Joel: Which is a lot of what the movie's about too.
>>Peter: Which is what the movie's about.
>>Joel: It would be ironic if you chose a child like that.
>>Peter: It would be [laughter] a bit ironic, and a bit sad.
But I remember when we cast C.J. because I'm so fond of him,
I've known him since he was six years old, and I got very emotional when it was so evident
that he needed to be Timothy. But I had that moment of thinking, "Oh, you
know, have--is this going to, you know, ruin his life?"
And so far, it's not ruined his life, it's enhanced it.
It's certainly enhanced all of our lives. He just comes from a great family, and he's
a great kid, Odeya, too, plays the young girl, just amazing
family, just amazing kid. So, they make us better, I think they make
us more honest. You know you want people who, again it's like
when you play with people who are better than you or smarter
than you or have more experience than you, have a purer
heart than you, they impact you.
And hopefully we were good guardians of them too.
>>Joel: And children, from an actor's perspective, I think a lot of actors are kind of grown
up children in that you're a person who's managed not, hopefully, to not lose
touch with an imagination. A child has a purity of imagination and in
fact a kind of play in their life that isn't fused with too much shame and shyness
and embarrassment and you know, you see it with kids in your
life, with nephew and nieces or children, that at some point a sense of judgment, a
kind of outward kind of judgment and shame and embarrassment
starts to grow in them where, once upon a time, they'll climb a tree and
pretend to be a monkey--Oh a friend of mine told me this--
the reason I'm saying this--A friend of mine told me this terrible story
about how he used to balance on this sort of play swing thing,
and pretend to be a monkey and pretend to be eating things out of his hair
and scratching his armpits and stuff, and one day, at the age of eleven or something,
looked up and saw the entire neighbor's family looking at him from their kitchen window and
laughing at him, and it was a day he realized he couldn’t
be a monkey any more [Peter sighs sadly] and I find that really funny, but really really
sad and that's to me the part that some actors
thankfully don't lose, is that switch that allows them to really
indulge in being someone else, or dressing up, or being weird and wonderful
and embarrassing themselves without too much shame.
So, as a grownup person, being in a movie when you work with a child,
oftentimes they'll really educate you again about
really making sure that that avenue that you have to your imagination is really pure,
because there's no teaching a kid how to say lines, because that's artificial,
they need to just really be kind of in the moment and they are,
and they can be, you know, there are times where I walk away like, "I
was such a faker today and that kid just really schooled me."
[Joel laughs] I'll talk to you outside you little--
[Peter and Joel laugh]
>>Claire: Has being a dad changed or influenced your approach to storytelling at all?
>>Peter: Oh, very much so, although my teenaged boys are desperate for me to do something
very cool. [laughter]
They really want dad to do something cool and um--
>>Joel: You'll have to stop making stuff and start destroying stuff.
>>Peter: I know, that's right, I'll have to blow something up in the backyard.
"My dad's cool!" But it has affected me, this particular story,
a lot of what the parents go through, the desire to give the kids,
to fill the hole from their childhood through, live through their child,
be over involved, particularly in terms of athletics or anything artistic,
that's I mean, those are my mistakes, and those are my mistakes
that I've just translated into Jim and Cindy Green's mistakes.
And they're a bit more horrific, personally, because there were some moments
where I'm really ashamed of how lost, how I lost touch with where my kids were
because I was so caught up in where I need, where I was.
And part of why I wanted to make the film was I thought if I,
well, one, I thought if I could shine the light on some of those mistakes,
maybe it would be useful to you, if you have children
or if you have issues with your parents that you've carried around for a long time.
Maybe it will shed light on why parents get lost in their kids,
and also how kids, for the kids who watch this story, can look at their parents
and see how imperfect they are but well intended. Most parents are really well intended and
the mistakes they make are, they're doing the best they can, it's just,
they're committing incredible parental crimes. So, my kids, yeah, you know they, they've
had a big influence on me, and so they've impacted what I do. Definitely.
>>Joel: What was the names of those neighbors you grew up with?
>>Peter: The Silversteins.
>>Joel: Yeah, I think, I've met Peter's kids. I think you've brought up a couple of Silversteins.
>>Peter: Yeah.
>>Joel: Yeah, they're exceptional young men.
>>Peter: They're pretty great.
>>Claire: So we have a couple minutes left, so if anybody has a question, use the mic.
>>male #1: I'd like to, I'm curious from both you, if you had complete artistic control
without micromanagement of producers and people that wanted to fund your movies,
if you could make exactly the movie you want to make, for its own sake,
without worrying about focus groups and, you know, audiences and everything,
what is your dream project that you'd love to do just for art's sake itself?
>>Joel: Whoa, well when work with a studio, I'll just say this,
Mickey definitely had one eye out on everything that was going on with this film.
You know, there's generally a great complicity, you know if you come
with the right ideas, the right people the whole studio system
can actually be really wonderful. But personally, you know,
I have a company in Australia, Blue Tongue Films, and we make our own stuff,
and we've had a lot of kind of artistic kind of license to do what we want
back home in Australia, there's not a lot of people meddling. I find the more money
in the project, the more meddling there is. so, I have a ton of dream things
that I'd love to do and I feel really blessed because I'm in the process
of developing those things and I've got a project happening at the end of the year
in Australia which is just being financed which we'll make,
and another one I hope to make next year and I feel like there's a completely unimpeded
situation going on there, I just hope that I get the
actors that I want.
>> male #1: And by the way, part of the question is, you have carte blanche
to get location permits, actors, whatever your dream is, what do you envision you would
love to make?
>>Joel: I think I have to start dreaming bigger. I have to get a bit more Baz Buhrmann
and less Joel Edgerton. I think that the low budgetness of Australia makes
a lot of people start to think, "Okay, how do I craft a story out of fifty-eight cents,"
rather than "anything is possible." I know what you're saying [stutters/mumbles]
I'd like to do a big Shakespeare kind of, you know, historical
epic I think, you know. And have a sword in my hands. [laughter]
>>Peter: I love limitations. I don't, I haven't experienced,
people always say,"Well you made Pieces of April and that's pure and making a studio
film wasn't pure." They don't feel any different to me, except
one, people actually got to be paid, and they had nicer accommodations.
I think what I would do if I could have a dream, it would be,
I would think of all the people I've ever worked with that I loved working with
and they'd all be on the job. And then I would make a list of people
who I've always wanted to work with, one would be Donna Reed, she died in 1986,
so we'd have to resurrect her, [laughter] because she seemed like a great person-
>>Joel: Good on you mate. >>Peter: And you know, when I think of a project
I think of people. It's not that I would ever have a vision that
I would to have it all my way. I don't want it to be my way. I'll write a
novel if I want it to be my way. But it would be going to work with people
and letting them know that we are all going to be surprised. We're going to work
on the highest level and if we succeed we're all going to share
in the success.
>>Joel: Cool.
>>Peter: I'm maybe not answering your question, I'm talking about
a way of working. There's just so many people I've gotten to work with
over the years that if I could just put them all in a room and we could all just show up
and I'll come with a story and we'll figure it out.
>>Joel: Maybe we'll do that exactly what you're saying but in space.
>>Peter: In space. But I will tell you limitations are so useful
and the scenes I'm most proud of in almost every film I've made
are ones where we were up against insurmountable odds,
particularly in Pieces of April where every day
the solutions we found were borne out of time and talent and the weather and the light,
the technology made us better. And I think that if you came to me and said,"You
can have all the money and all the time," I would have more trouble coming up with something
then if you came to me and said, "You've got two weeks. You've got
Meryl Streep and Joel Edgerton, C.J. and John Tolz as your DP, and you can shoot it
in your hometown." BOOM! I'm --I'm--I'm going [makes rocket and
explosion noises]--I got ideas.
>>Joel: I'm already in Iowa.
>>Peter: You're already there.
>>Joel: I'm already there.
>>Peter: And Meryl's very happy to be working with you, in my dream.
>> male #1: Thanks.
>>Peter: So. Great question.
>> male #2: So, looking at the film itself, I thought it was amazing
and my mind like raced back to like classics of children's lit,
things like Bridge to Terabithia, like Mary Poppins.
Was that like in your mind when you were working with the screenplay,
or how did you capture that sort of feeling from children's lit in the film?
>>Peter: True story, and I'm hesitant to say this because I would in no way even
suggest that Timothy Green is a classic. That's not for me to determine, or you even.
Time determines what's a classic, but I very much woke up one night
in my home having had a dream where I was directing and it was a bigger movie than I
ever directed and my wife said,"Why are you up?" and I said,
"I want to make a classic." And she said,"What do you mean?" and I said,
"You know E.T., Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life,
one of those movies,"and this is really probably what I meant," One of those movies that you
watch and re-watch, you go back to time and time again. That's
what I want to do." She said,"That's great," and then she went
back to bed. And I was still there, and she said, "Why aren't you going back to
bed?" And I said, "Well , there's a problem, I don’t' really come up with
those ideas." Because I don't. Because each of those stories has a magical element to
it. Couple days later, I met the then president
of Disney for breakfast, he said, "Come home. Come back to Disney."
I said, "That's great, but I don't really have an idea. The things I'm writing right
now are a bit dirty, a bit inappropriate, and I just don't have a Disney
idea. But if I have one, thank you. I love working there. It's a great
place to work, but I just don't have a story." That was fine.
A couple days later I had a lunch, or not even a lunch, it was like a bagel, with producer
Scott Sanders who brought along another producer Ahmet Zappa. And Ahmet
Zappa said, "Can I tell you a story?" He said, "I was in the shower, and this idea
came to me, and I want to tell it to you." And he told it to me, started about the couple
who can't have a kid and they plant the ideas about the kid in the
ground and I went, "Stop. I don't want to hear anymore. I'm in. I got it."
And I basically adopted that idea and ran with it. And--but all the while hoping
that I would make something for adults, a movie for adults that kids would love to see
with their adults. One of the--with their adults--kids would want to
see with their adults--"You're my adult"-- with their parents
or their family. But make a movie that families might see or prospective parents might see,
that could be--because everybody was a kid once or is a kid. And
everybody is a parent, and if they're not, they at least have parents or had parents.
So I thought this is--I'm kind of hitting everybody. But what Ahmet
brought was this magic element and I just kept noticing that the movies that I go back
to in that way-- for that kind of emotional, and spiritual
sustenance all have a magical element so I thought why not --why not try that. I'd
spent twelve years writing a really dirty novel
and I kind of needed to take a spiritual, creative bath.
And that's what The Odd Life of Timothy Green was so I feel clean again
and ready to go do bad bad creative things.
>>Claire: Okay, thanks so much.
>>Peter: Thank you. Sorry, sorry.
[Laughter and applause]
I know. I don't get out much.
>>Claire: So I think the movie comes out in two weeks, I don't know if I'm supposed to
say that.
>>Peter: August 15th.
>>Claire: Great. Thanks so much.
>>Joel: Thank you
>>Peter: Thank you.
>>Joel: You were great.